For the past two years, bear management topped the agenda of public talk in Mammoth Lakes. So, naturally with a Mono County Sheriff’s election, the same topic came up. So what would the two candidates do about bears in the unincorporated areas of the County?
Sheriff Rick Scholl said he’s frustrated with the view that Steve Searles is the only program that works. Scholl said other people have masters degrees and have studied animals on a different level with more credence in their expertise than someone without education.
But Scholl said he never wants to say he’s closed-minded. He said he doesn’t really know about Searles’ program. He did say “experts say education is truly the only effective way long-term.” Scholl said his department does do bear hazing but also works with the Department of Fish and Game. He said it’s all “very consistent with Steve Searles’ program.
The Sheriff said he never indicated he would not work with Searles. Said Scholl, “I try to do research before I open my mouth.” He said he doesn’t “just want to believe in one person.”
Challenger Doug Northington said education is the first thing. “Don’t leave trash out,” he said, “to provide an easy food source for the bears.” Northington said he would use all methods to deal with bear problems in the county. “The more tools you have,” he said, “the better off you are. If Steve Searles’ methods are a tool, why aren’t deputies being trained to use them.”
Northington said he would also include Fish and Game plans. He said that he favors getting rid of problem bears with out killing them. “The last resort is deadly force,” said Northington.
Has he talked with Searles about bear issues? Northington said yes, and he said if elected he would talk to him and consider Searles one more tool to use.